On the Occasion of May Day: Labor and the Indian Elections

Lalan Kishor Singh

Summary: This article by an Indian worker and member of the International Marxist-Humanist Organisation and Mazdoor Unity on the need to intensify the class struggle in light of India’s presidential elections was distributed at May Day rallies there. (It is translated by Naresh Lokhande) — Editors

Caste discrimination and religious hatred, witnessed abundantly during the Indian elections, strengthened the fascist forces. This is demonstrated by the fact that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was previously limited to only two seats, has now formed the government twice consecutively, and is preparing for a possible third term. Globally as well, the fascist forces are on the rise which has made it necessary for those on the left to struggle more virulently against caste discrimination, racism, ethnic exclusion, and gender discrimination.

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx stated that the struggle of the workers is not bound by national boundaries—it is above all, an internationalist struggle. Wherever labor power is sold, there occurs a struggle between labor and capital. This struggle basically assumes a shape where the State and the Market come to collectively struggle against the working class.  The Communist Manifesto refers to the state as the representative body of the capitalists. The capitalists today use the elections for the gains of Capital. Elections are now being held for the lower house of the Indian Parliament (the Lok Sabha), and millions of rupees will be spent by various political parties in getting 542 people elected to the Lok Sabha. All of them will talk of the poor, and of human dignity in their campaigns but after getting elected, they will serve only their class interests which are aligned with the interest of capital.

An election has two parts. The first part is where the poor and the exploited people elect their leaders. The second part is where these people surrender themselves to the leaders. This is the basic character of the bourgeois democracy and all political parties, including those on the left, participate in this, and subsequently hand over themselves to capitalists.

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx gave the clarion call,  “Workers of the world, Unite!” The slogan reflects unity and organisation. The working class has a massive and radical history of struggle—such as the French Revolution, Paris Commune, the Chicago agitation and the Russian Revolution—which have time and again exhibited that collective action, unity, and organisation are more important than bourgeois political processes.

Fearful journalists, sold-out opposition, and slumbering masses—this is the contemporary state of Indian democracy. Journalists are afraid of writing against those in power. The opposition remains silent. Political parties fight against the government for capturing power, and this process engulfs elections as well which have become hotbeds of political corruption in the country.

To obtain power, political parties have driven the masses away from politics, using them only as cannon fodder during elections. The elections are being held at a time when the power is in the hands of a dictator, Narendra Modi. The dictator has strengthened his grip on the system and has misused government institutions and agencies as per his whims and fancies.

Our fight, at this juncture, is not against any individual but against the system itself, a system that is being controlled by the fascistic RSS. The RSS and the BJP have used electoral bonds to financially strangle the opposition, which has left the Congress almost penniless in the face of a critical election.  What is heartening to note is that those on the left at least have not been found embroiled in any corruption case. They have not been recipients of any electoral bonds. But, the mainstream Indian left as well lusts for power, which eventually—as has been evident in the case of West Bengal, Kerala, and Tripura—makes it a part of the system itself, albeit a more progressive part but a part nonetheless.

The mainstream left needs to come out of the bourgeois corruption and must start working towards the transformation of the entire system itself because that is the true goal of the Marxist struggle. The transformation of the system happens not through elections but through practical and real struggles against capital.


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